Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that is 'finding his place in it,' while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of really being at home on Earth, which is just what we want. You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old." -- Screwtape letters

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I wanted to update you all with some pictures from our time here! We are now in the last week - so its a time of sadness as we prepare to leave and a time of expectation as we prepare for the next season. Thank you for your prayers and support as we have served here.

Katie's Class at Heritage International School
 One of the first aid students "performing" CPR
 The Heritage boys soccer team
 The incinerator that dad and I built at the baby home
 Chickens!! Yes, they are alive :-)
Us at the source of the Nile in Jinja

Sunday, May 1, 2011


On Friday, returning from Aggies Baby Home, it looked as if the country had gone crazy. Years of pent-up anger and frustration unleashed on the streets of Kampala - and on themselves. The cycle of violence continues. We passed burning roadblocks, huge stones rolled in the middle of the road, and empty tear gas canisters which littered the ground. It was the left-overs of what people around the world are terming another "day of rage" -
              - like Egypt
              - like Tunisia
              - like Libya
              - like Syria

Seeing these things reminded me of what an embattled, broken world we live in - a world desperate for shalom - for His inbreaking kingdom.

and so we pray for peace - we pray for His Easter newness.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


"On this side of the grave we are exiles, on that, citizens; on this side, orphans; on that, children; on this side, captives; on that, free men." ~ Henry Beecher

        It's been almost 2 weeks since I've written! There has been no lack of things to write about! Katie's parents came and visited for a week, two of my first aid classes graduated, the Heritage International School boys soccer team that I coach made it to the championship and Katie is now the full-time teacher in her 3rd grade classroom.

        We had a wonderful time with Katie's parents! We spent most of our time at New Hope Orphanage and Aggies Baby Home. Dad I I worked on building an incinerator for the diapers while Katie and mom showed some love to the babies. We fed the children banana's and bread and are continuing to treat around 100 children for fungal infections on their head. Each time we serve among those children it increases in me a longing for God's permanent newness - His ultimate redemption. Walter Brueggemann writes in his book Peace

"Newness is about to burst into our lives and, indeed, into the world. But the newness comes not without a price, and the price is death to all present arrangements, death to fear and to small hopes, death to old visions and memories. And those who are ready for death to all that the world calls ‘life’ are the ones to whom life can come." 

And this is what we pray for each morning. His Easter newness.

        Katie and I were talking about the orphans yesterday and she mentioned the verse from Hosea 14 - "In You the orphan finds mercy." She said, "I hope each one of those children has been chosen so that they can receive the love and comfort of God since they have no other family." This stuck with me. The president of World Vision said, "I believe that this could very well be looked back on as the sin of our generation...I believe that our children and their children, 40 or 50 years from now, are going to ask me, what did you do while 40 million children became orphans in Africa?" May we be found faithful with what God has given us.

        There is a divisive force in humanity and it is the gospel of Jesus Christ. To some the truth of Christ is the aroma of life - to others they sense it as the stench of death. Paul asks in 2 Corinthians, "Who is sufficient for these things?" I understand his question in an entirely deeper way now. We all have felt the urging of the Spirit to tell someone about Jesus. I felt this as I was finishing my last English class of the term - and only because of His grace, I told them. While speaking, I sensed how much love hurts for the lost. I sensed how in the proclaiming of the gospel there is an unavoidable grief and sadness for those who don't accept. John Piper illustrates it it this way - 

"Imagine walking through a crowded shopping mall. As you walk through some few people - maybe 7 or 8 out of a hundred begin to follow you out of the mall and everyone one else just drops dead. Wouldn't that be overwhelming? Wouldn't that be too much to bear? That is why Paul asks 'Who is sufficient for these things?'"

        I have often wondered if there is some image, some picture or story I could blog about to make you understand how broken and lost our world is. What picture could i drive into your head so that it would haunt your dreams at night so that you literally could not sit still until you found a way to share Jesus with someone who is going to hell. Only the Spirit can move us in such a way.

Are we open to His leading? Are we faithful?

"You are the God who makes all things new.
We gladly raise our voices and move our lips
to acknowledge, celebrate, and proclaim
Your staggering newness.
As we do so, we hold in our hearts
deep awareness of all the places where your newness
is not visible, and
has not come.
Draw us from the wretchedness we know
to his scarred, bloody wretchedness
that is your odd entry of newness into our life. Amen."
~ Walter Brueggemann

 The Kabaka Dance, the dance for the king

 The kids are happy to have bread!

Some of the babies at the home

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Katie and I really enjoyed our holiday on Tuesday - it was "International Womens Day" here in Uganda and her and I were off from teaching. We went to Owino Market - a HUGE place with over 500,000 venders. They sell everything from clothes to rice to fruit to shoes, we bought our veggies for the week and found gooseberries there! We had Katogo for lunch - a Ugandan dish cooked in a banana leaf. At night we celebrated Shrove Tuesday with the Heritage teachers by having a pancake dinner. 

I realized again this week what a blessing it is to be married to Katie and to be here together.

I also realized recently that I work all day with people that are going to hell. Each handshake and smile and conversation only served to confirm that reality. The weight of this hit me near the end of the day. Sitting on the grass, laughing with Patrick and preparing to play soccer with the Somali refugees I looked up to see them lined up. Eight image-bearers turned bronze by the fading sunlight. As they spread their shirts on the ground to prepare for evening prayers a loud cry comes across the sky - the call to prayer from the boziga mosque. I watched them kneel and go down for their prayers and couldn't help think of Jesus looking at the crowds feeling compassion for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd (Matt 9). I wonder what Jesus felt when it says he was "deeply moved" - did he see the crowd in light of redemptive history? 

I cried a lot the other night - the reality of being chosen, marked and set aside while others are not. A deep sense of unworthiness has pervaded me these last few days - and I cannot forget those that do not sense the nearness of His hand - the faithfulness of His love each morning. And so in these Lenten days we pray and wait and are filled with longing for others to know of His Easter presence.

“The mystery of iniquity is at work in the world during this interim time, and it is not always clear how its malignant work is being checked, overridden, or woven into the glorious purposes of God. We need to remember, though, that while Judas betrayed Christ, and woe to him for doing so, it was God’s plan that Christ was thus betrayed. Evil by its very nature opposes the purposes of God, but God, in his sovereignty, can make even this evil serve his purposes.” 
~ David Wells

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A reality

I am teaching several classes at Center of Hope. I have many refugee women from Sudan in my classes. None of them have finished elementary school. It brought into the reality the statistic that more women in Sudan die from childbirth than finish elementary school.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Streams of living water

"Is there a balm… in Gilead or anywhere? 
Is there medicine for what ails us? 
Is there healthcare with you, so absent everywhere else? 
Is there a drug to deal with our infection? 
Is there a heavy dose for our pathology?"
~Walter Brueggemann on reading Jeremiah 8

Katie had the week off from school because of the presidential and mayoral elections. I have continued teaching the refugees at the center - its a wonderful opportunity and I really enjoy teaching first aid and CPR! Museveni won the elections - of course. I even received a text on my phone that said, "The old man in the yellow hat thanks you for making him president of Uganda." I thought that was funny. On the way back from Good Shephard Home we were stopped by a huge crowd of people that had gathered to watch the Presidential motorcade enter Kampala. We waved at President Museveni! The elections were mostly peaceful, a few riots broke out on thursday and friday when it was revealed that the mayoral elections were being rigged. figures. :-)

On Friday we went to Good Shepherd Home, a Catholic Mission that serves people with disabilities ranging from birth deformities to a children with cerebral malaria whose heads had swelled to the size of a basketball. The kids were dying for attention and love. Katie helped to feed some of the children and then did physical therapy with several of them. She told me about one child who didn't have arms past the elbow. By balancing the spoon on his elbow and manipulating it with his chin, he was able to feed himself. I watched a child draw pictures with a pencil between his toes because he was born without arms. He was such a good artist! Good Shepherd has a clinic there that helps the residents and community, I was able to help them during the afternoon treat children with head fungus. The things one experiences here are crushing, wearying. 

Yesterday, as Katie and I were boarding a matatu to leave the city center, we encountered several children on the street. They just sat there, dirty, in rags, holding out a hand. You can't give them money because it doesn't go to them but rather to the men who "control" the begging industry in Kampala. Katie and I went child by child handing out small pieces of candy, but each time it seemed they didn't even know what to do with it. they would silently look at it and then back at us.  They didn't open it, didn't smile, they just stared. it seemed their innocence had been taken from them. i have seen many street kids, but something about this altercation drained us, we felt weary, fatigued. i prayed for those kids a long time last night - its not the way its supposed to be.

In the last chapter of Amos, God tells Israel that He is going to send a famine on the land - not a famine of hunger or thirst, but of His word. People will "stagger from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, but they will not find it." His words are life - did not Christ say that streams of living water would flow from us? I wonder how much i believe that. When i am squeezed, is it Christ that comes out? What is the quality of my faith? What is the righteous response to encountering injustice or suffering? "Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored?" Jeremiah 8:22

Your words are life O Lord.

                                                                      Boda-Boda Driver with 7 kids!!!! CRAZY!!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Gap

I have loved teaching English and First Aid to the refugees throughout the week. My classes yesterday were packed! I really like that Katie and I are both teaching because I am able to learn a lot about teaching styles and creative activities. Please pray that relationships and more opportunities to share the gospel with the refugees would come about as a result of class time. 

Katie and I are really enjoying our time at the orphanage. She spent the whole day holding and loving the babies while I worked on some projects they needed completed. To hear the stories of the babies at the home is overwhelming. One baby was left on the railroad tracks to die, another was found on top of her dead mother, many are left on doorsteps or out in the middle of the street. Some are not reached in time. Agnes recounted to us a story of one baby in her neighborhood who was eaten by a dog. It is these kind of stories, matched with the faces of the babies at the orphanage, which will continue to haunt you. These things keep you up at night. Who would throw away a child? Who would leave a child to be killed?The darkness of our souls, the depravity of our natures runs so deep. Do we realize what evil we are capable of - or from what depths of sin we have been saved?

Whether it is processing things at the orphanage, hearing the Muslim call to prayer or hearing the stories of refugees, I cannot get over the deep sadness that i feel over what is, and what could be, between what is, and what should be. That gap, breaks your heart. What do you do? How do you handle that? You worship. You go back to Jesus until He fills you up. We are purposed to live for Him, to embody the humility and sacrifice of Christ, to be broken bread and poured out wine.

"Because we believe that One died for all because all had died, and those that live now longer live for themselves but for Him, who was crucified and was raised again." 
~ 2 Cor 5

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Biggest bug ever...

This week I started coaching the 9-11 year olds at Heritage International School. They won there first game on Tuesday! Katie is enjoying her internship at the school and we both are being stretched in different ways by the ministries we are involved in. Work at the Center is going well though the needs often seem overwhelming. Though the refugees that come to the center appear normal many of there stories are filed with violence, trauma, suffering and loss. There is an enormous need for redemption. 

Mix that with the poverty and constant pressing on my heart for the unreached Muslims of Kampala and you will understand why i found Matthew so encouraging this week. Near the end of Jesus' ministry it says he looked at the crowds and felt compassion for them for they were like sheep without a shepherd. Turning to his disciples he didn't tell them to organize or strategize a way to reach them, instead he told them to pray for more workers because the fields were white with harvest and the workers were so few.

So prayer has sustained me this week. Where else can we go?

C.S. Lewis says in A Grief Observed, "My idea of God is not a divine idea, it must be shattered again and again." I have been struck again and again by how unconventional and boundless God is. Brueggemann writes, "We know You to be no easy mark." How many times do I substitute the hard reality of God for an easier loyalty, a "lesser god"? When was the last time i remembered that Jesus is all we have?

One more thing - we found the biggest bug i've ever seen next to our bed yesterday morning - how would you like to wake up to this? :-) i'm told its a kind of cockroach.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Taking it all in

I sat down to write my first blog here in Kampala several days ago - but simply could not find words. How can i convey the madness of this city? The crowds, the organized chaos, the ex-pat community, the urban slums, the incessant call to prayer, the red dirt and the dark eyes together make up the mystery of this city. 

Katie and I live in an upper middle class area of Kampala - just a 15 minute walk from her school. 20 minutes in the opposite direction is Refuge and Hope - one of the organizations that I will be helping while here. Jammed between the high-walled housing compounds are shacks and vegetable stands. The weather is hot but not unbearable, at night it cools off with the rain storms. We hear the muslim call the prayer all the time - a warning cry of their growth and influence. I know that thousands in this city die without Christ daily - a grief-filled reality.

Katie loves the teacher and children she is with in the third grade class. I am working with refugees from Eritrea, Sudan and Congo. I start teaching skill classes and English on Monday. We are still trying to settle in and find a routine. Today we went to an orphanage we will be going to each week. 900 children. It is unbelievable and overwhelming. I'll tell you more about that in weeks to come.

Stephen Lewis once said "All I know is that every time I go to Africa I am shaken to my core." I LOVE it here, the people, the smiles, the jokes - but there is definitely something which is unsettling, a grief which must be prayed through. I think only in the times that I stop and wait on God is the fullness of this realized. God is so faithful, and so very present. We count on His presence more than we realize. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011


We count so on Your presence
and yearn, in each season, for Your nearness.
And you -
Bring Your newness
      because we are always seeking elsewhere and otherwise
Bring us to Your field
      because You have a better treasure waiting for us

Fill our days
      until all we are is longing
We pray in the name of Jesus, our saving One